Tuesday, June 22, 2021 06:52

Tools of the Trade, Part 7 (MonRoi?)

Are you tired of having to hand write every single move you make on the chessboard?

Are you ready for something different? Wouldn’t you love to just slide pieces around the way you would on an Internet game to record your games?

Love technology and gadgets? Have a bit over $350.00 of disposable income you’re not using?

You may then want a MonRoi.

The MonRoi PCM (Personal Chess Manager) is sort of a mini-database for your games, as well as replacing the function of a score sheet. It looks like a PDA – it essentially is a specialized PDA.

I’ll give it props for the following: It’s about as easy to use as a PDA is. It allows you to make moves graphically, while converting that to move text. It’s easy enough to transfer the results to your actual database. (Databases will still be discussed in a Tools of the Trade yet to come.) Some large tournaments allow wireless transmission of the score sheet to the organizer. It is a USCF-approved scorekeeping device, and has been used at some FIDE tournaments.

Why would anyone not want a MonRoi?

In full disclosure: I have seen them used, got to inspect one close up. I have not used one.

But I’ll take a stab at why one wouldn’t want one: There is no greater accuracy guarantee using a MonRoi than writing on paper. (At least in Tournament recording mode – the USCF mandates that there is no ‘move legality check’ as part of its standards for electronic score sheets.) While it might be easier to see a problem comparing the visual MonRoi board to the actual board, there is no guarantee you will until you’ve still got a mess to be untangled.

As far as I can tell, the batteries are *not* user-replaceable. I could be wrong about that one, though. But if I’m right, that means every 1 to 3 years or so having to send it in for service. And it would not surprise me that this is true for anti-tamper purposes as well.

The eternal nay-say against PDA’s in general: Paper. Don’t. Break. I have yet to own a PDA device (and I’ve owned at least 3, going back to the Apple Newton,) that doesn’t eventually develop screen/stylus recognition problems. It’s part of the joy of touchscreens.

If you’re just learning the game, it is actually best you learn notation by hand before allowing a machine to do it for you. Even when you make notation mistakes, that can reveal errors in how you’re visualizing the board (as Lev Alburt has said, Chess Life, October 2009.)

Finally, for the money, there are cheaper or more multifunctional alternatives. Sevan Muradian’s NACA (North American Chess Association) has had a PDA program for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices called eNotate. For $25 you get the program. For $150 they’ll include a PDA capable of running it. (Note: When I tried accessing the link to it tonight as part of this entry, apparently that section is either undergoing maintenance or they no longer offer it. I’ll edit this post as soon as I know which.) I’ve talked to Sevan. eNotate is in fact available still, and he is simply upgrading his website as of this writing. eNotate, if you don’t buy it with PDA, does require a Windows 5/6 PDA but cannot run on a smartphone. (Security concerns, I gather.)

And, if you’re just looking for a casual non-tournament way to record… I use a Palm T|X and Chess Tiger 15 for Palm. I thus have a chessplaying computer, a way to record my casual games and sync them to PC, as well as a fully functional Palm Pilot. Sadly, the people at Palm have now apparently decided to abandon the Z99/T|X/Garnet OS in favor of their smartphones.

Editorial comment: Some of us actually *LIKE* having our phone and PDA separate. Not everybody wants a smartphone.

In the more expensive category: A Bluetooth DGT electronic chessboard, linked to a laptop on an AC charger. (Review on the DGT board still coming. Note to DGT: I will happily accept a demonstration unit for review – especially if I get to keep it. ;) ) However, I’m not sure if it’s 100% legal to use in tournament play.

It may sound like I’m saying don’t buy a MonRoi. Not at all. It’s a very good device at what it does. If I had $350 lying around, I’d buy it. But since I already own a Palm T|X (which I’m typing this on,) it just doesn’t meet what I’m looking for. And I do scratch my head when I see 1st-3rd graders whose parents have bought them MonRois for use at scholastic tournaments. But, whether you decide it is useful and buy it or not, choose the route that helps you the most to

Enjoy your Chess!

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2 Responses to “Tools of the Trade, Part 7 (MonRoi?)”

  1. 12677402 says:

    MonRoi is a poor investment for individual players (they’re great for clubs that consistently produce high level tournaments and want the games). “Paper. Don’t. Break.” is an outstanding sentiment, and it’s important for younger players to not take too many shortcuts. $350 is a lot of books on Amazon or some lessons from a great trainer.

    eNotate is not allowed on phones due to the possibility of giving/receiving phone calls, and all of the cheating possiblities.

    DGT boards are allowed. From the USCF site on electronic scoresheets: “DGT Projects Electronic Chessboard (current model, April 2006 or later); conditional: If the DGT
    chessboard is interfaced to a computer for display or transmittal purposes, that computer must be under the
    direct control or supervision of the event organizer or tournament director.”

  2. I’d written a long reply to your comment, but then butterfingers-at-the-keyboard lost it by going backwards. *arrgh!*

    The summary of it was that while I now own, use, and advocate the eNotate platform, I do agree with what you wrote.

    Thanks for the comment!